The worst bodyweight exercises are often times the most common calisthenic exercises. In this video, I’m going to show you 8 bodyweight exercises you’ll want to stop doing, and more importantly, the exercise substitutions you should make to keep the gains coming and prevent injury from doing the wrong things.
We start with the popular bench dip. The reason people do this exercise for their triceps is to get a complete contraction on the muscle by getting the arm behind the body which allows for better activation of the triceps long head. The issue here is the position of the shoulder that many assume just to get in position to perform it. The head of the humerus is thrown anteriorly, which stretches and weakens the anterior shoulder capsule (an area already chronically weak and unstable on many). You can either vary the hand position as shown or switch to the cobra pushup as a way to get the same tricep benefits without the shoulder joint compromise.
Next we have the popular plank. Now, while this is a core exercise performed by many it doesn’t mean that it’s a good one. Besides the fact that it is entirely remedial for almost everyone that does it (not providing nearly enough of a core challenge to adequately stimulate or strengthen your core muscles) it also tends to reinforce some postural imbalances that are already all too common, with the posterior chain muscles getting too little stimulation in favor of the anterior chain. See the plank alternatives in the video linked at the end of this video.
The hurdler’s hamstring stretch is not at all the best way to stretch your hamstrings. Many will perform it but not understand why it’s so ineffective for creating actual length increases of the hamstring muscles. The issue is the amount of posterior pelvic tilt that occurs when you perform it. When this happens the hamstrings are put on slack and the stretch is greatly minimized. Instead, either do so out of a taller posture where the pelvis is rotated anteriorly or try the standing hamstring wall stretch for a much better effect.
Neck bridges are just not something you want to do to your neck. Yes, they are incredibly effective for creating overload and developing larger neck muscles, but at what expense. You only get one set of cervical vertebra in your lifetime. Protect them. Avoid the compression and shearing stresses piled on your discs with this exercise in favor of the flexion and extension isometrics shown.
Kipping pullups are not pullups. No further discussion needed!
Scorpions are performed to increase spinal mobility and movement. The problem is, increased lumbar rotation is not something you should be aspiring to create. The lumber spine is designed to be stable. Mobility in the area should come from the hips not the low back. Instead, opt for the t-spine mobility drill shown here to attack the area most capable of giving you the rotation that you seek.
Sissy squats are another bad bodyweight exercise you should avoid. It’s not so much the knees over toes that is the issue but that it is combined with the extra stretch on the quads from above that creates a tremendous amount of stress on the quadriceps and patellar tendons. Opt for a single leg modified pistol squat instead.
Finally, while popular, the pushup is one of the most often misperformed bodyweight exercises around. Be sure not to cut the range of motion even a few inches here if you want to see the real benefits of the exercise.
For a complete workout program where all of the exercises are selected based on science, be sure to head to athleanx.com at the link below to see how to train like an athlete and look like one in just a few months of proper training. Our Xero program is 100 percent bodyweight and requires no equipment at all.
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